SAG-AFTRA reach tentative deal to end strike

The SAG-AFTRA actors’ union reached a tentative labor agreement today with Hollywood studios, bringing an end to a strike that spanned 118 days and brought the entertainment industry to a nearly complete stop.

No details of the tentative agreement were immediately released. The strike will officially end at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.   

There was no immediate comment from the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represented the studios in the negotiations.   

Hollywood production has essentially been at a standstill since May 2, when the Writers Guild of America union went on strike, and SAG-AFTRA performers mostly honored the picket lines. The WGA ended its strike in late September, when negotiators reached a labor agreement with the studios. WGA members ratified the deal in early October.  

The shutdown has been estimated by some experts to have cost the local economy billions of dollars, affecting not only actors and writers, but all other aspects of the production industry and even small businesses that rely on entertainment workers, such as restaurants and caterers.

“I am grateful that a fair agreement has been reached between SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP after a more than 100-dy strike that impacted millions in Los Angeles and throughout the country,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement Wednesday afternoon after the tentative deal was announced. “Those on the line have been the hardest hit during this period and there have been ripple effects throughout our entire city.   

“Today’s tentative agreement is going to impact nearly every part of our economy. Now, we must lean in on local production to ensure that our entertainment industry rebounds stronger than ever and our economy is able to get back on its feet.”

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Hopes of a break in the negotiating deadlock began arising Tuesday, when Deadline reported that negotiators for the union and AMPTP met via Zoom late Monday night and reached a possible agreement regarding protections and compensation for performers in the use of their images via artificial
intelligence. That meeting reportedly included Disney CEO Bob Iger, Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos and NBCUniversal’s Donna Langley, who are believed to have been directly involved in many of the recent negotiating sessions with the union.

AI was a major hurdle in the drawn-out labor negotiations. The union was insistent on securing robust protections regarding AI, while the studios were reportedly reluctant to restrict their use of the rapidly emerging technology.

Deadline, an online entertainment industry trade publication, reported that SAG-AFTRA and the studios had already reached agreement in principle on wages, settling on a roughly 8% increase in minimum rates, along with other long-rate wage hikes and a 100% raise in compensation bonuses for high performing streaming content.   

The two sides met for roughly two hours Saturday and for each of the previous 12 days, according to multiple media reports. The so-called Gang of Four studio CEOs — Iger, Sarandos, Zaslav and Langley — are believed to have taken part in those discussions.

On Saturday, they were joined by an expanded team of studio executives that also included Paramount’s Brian Robbins; Disney’s Dana Walden and co-chairman Alan Bergman; Amazon Studios’ Mike Hopkins and Jen Salke; Sony Pictures chairperson Tony Vinciquerra; and Apple Studios’ Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, Variety reported.   

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On Monday, SAG-AFTRA announced that it had delivered its response to the Hollywood studios’ “last, best & final” contract offer, noting at the time that the two sides were still lacking an agreement on “several essential items,” including the use of AI.

The studios had warned that unless a deal is reached within the week it will be impossible for broadcasters to salvage half a season of scripted television.

The 2024 summer movie season is also increasingly in peril, as more and more films have been delayed to 2025.   

The strike is the longest TV/film work stoppage in the union’s history.   

The Producers Guild of America issued a statement congratulating SAG-AFTRA “for their unwavering dedication in reaching an agreement with the studios. We eagerly look forward to collaborating with our fellow writers, actors and director as we collectively work towards revitalizing our industry and returning to work.”   

Individual actors were also quick to speak out about the deal.   

“Thank you to all the strike captains … who busted their asses every day on the line for months to ensure we got a fair contract,” actor Nate Corddry wrote on X. “Thank you forever.”

Actor/comedian Paul Scheer wrote simply, “Thank you @sagaftra negotiating team!!”

Actor Albert Brooks cheerfully proclaimed, “The SAG strike is over!! I can finally say it: watch my documentary Saturday night at 8 on HBO/MAX! I can’t wait for you to see it! Couldn’t say a word until now!”

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